Patriot League 20th Anniversary Profiles: Billy Hurley



Dec. 16, 2010

Name: Billy Hurley III
Institution: U.S. Naval Academy
Sport: Golf
Graduation Year: 2004
Undergraduate Degree: Quantitative Economics
Did You Know?
Most decorated golfer in Patriot League history

A four-time all-Patriot League golfer, Hurley excelled both in the classroom and on the golf course. The 2004 Patriot League Golfer of the Year became the first golfer to be named the Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year, and was also named to the Academic Honor roll three times.

He compiled a remarkable season during his season campaign when he captured the Byron Nelson Award and selected to represent the United States as a member of the 10-player 2005 Walker Cup team. The Walker Cup pits the best amateur golfers from the United States against their counterparts from Great Britain and Ireland. He also placed 14th at the NCAA Men's Golf Regional, the top finish ever by any Patriot League golfer.

A year prior to the Walker Cup, Hurley became the first Service Academy graduate to be selected to play in the Palmer Cup. Like the Walker Cup, it features the premiere amateur golfers from the United States and Europe, though the golfers are selected from the collegiate ranks. Hurley was selected to captain the 2004 Palmer Cup team that competed against the Europeans at Ballybunion Golf Club in County Kerry, Ireland.

Recently, he competed in the final stage of the PGA Qualifying Tournament and looks to continue his professional career in 2011.

Q: What factors helped in your decision to attend the U.S. Naval Academy?
A: I fell in love with the Naval Academy when I was in high school because of the tradition, honor, excellence, and everything that the place stands for. I only applied to one school because it was the only place that I wanted to attend. A close friend of my dad went to the Academy and our friend's father was Commandant and Superintendent of the Academy (VADM Charles Minter, Class of 1937). That relationship solidified my choice as I was given tours of the "Yard" and told more about the Academy and Navy as a whole.

Q: Who were your sports idols growing up and why?
A: I played baseball mostly growing up so my favorite athletes were baseball players. Guys like Greg Maddox, Tom Glavine, Chipper Jones (all Atlanta Braves). I liked them because they were so good. My brother and I would play Wiffle ball baseball games pretending to be these players.

Q: What was your proudest on-the-field accomplishment?
A: Finishing second at the 2001 Patriot League Tournament. Not just because I played well and I was just a freshman, but because our entire team played well and we won the tournament giving us a berth into the NCAA Regional. In addition, being selected for the 2004 Palmer Cup Team was very special. I was named to the team because of my performance on the golf course. They are trying to find the top eight amateur golfers and I was selected as one of them.

Q: What was your proudest academic accomplishment?
A: Being named Patriot League Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2004. It was pretty clear in golf that year that I was the choice but to be named for the entire Patriot League across all sports was very special.

Q: How were you able to balance the demands in the classroom with the demands of being an athlete?
A: Simply put, Time Management. This is the most important skill at the Naval Academy for anyone and being a student-athlete it becomes that much more important. I did not do much outside of golf and school while I was in college and that made it easier to be able to complete everything that was required on both fronts.

Q: How did your experience as a student-athlete prepare you for life after college?

A: In the Navy, time management is maybe more important than when you are at the Naval Academy. So honing that skill while in school made my time in the Navy easier because I had a good foundation in completing multiple things on a time schedule.

Q: What was life in the military like after graduation? Can you share some of your experiences while in the Navy?

A: Military life is hard work. Our men and women work way more hours than most of the work force. But it is very rewarding. There is little that can compare to working with a group of people to accomplish a goal and then seeing that goal come to fruition. The cohesiveness of a ship or a small unit is not replicated anywhere in society that I know of and it is one of the most rewarding jobs. The most memorable and exciting thing that I did in the Navy was to be the 1st Lieutenant onboard USS CHUNG-HOON (DDG 93) in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. I worked with 20 sailors who accomplished amazing things. We were in charge of such a large scale of the ship and my guys and girls ensured that everything we had to do was done and was done well. This was a tremendous experience and something I will always remember. In addition to that I had the opportunity to be the Officer of the Deck while our ship traveled through the Suez Canal. That was an extremely demanding experience and something that I am proud to have been selected to do.

Q: How did it feel to be named the 2004 Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year?

A: It was unbelievable because there are so many great Student-Athletes in the Patriot League; I never imagined being named the Scholar-Athlete of the Year. In fact, when I first heard I won the award I thought it was just from among the golfers that I was selected. Later, I learned that I was selected from the entire Patriot League across all men's sports and that is when the award became really special.

Q: If you could go back to college and compete one more time, where would it be and against whom?

A: I would play at the Naval Academy Golf Course in the Army-Navy Match. That is such a special event for us and I was able to be a part of four winning teams over Army during college. That event is unlike any other of the year.

Q: 2004 was a magical year and one of the most impressive seasons for any Patriot League student-athlete (Byron Nelson, Scholar-Athlete, NCAA Regional, Patriot League medalist, Academic All-American, Honorable Mention All-America). What are your fondest memories from that season?

A: Shooting 61 (lowest score shot that year in college I think) at the Naval Academy course was a very special day. That day of golf sort of propelled my entire year. It put my name on the national map and it gave me a huge amount of confidence. And I remember when I found out that I was named to the Palmer Cup Team; I remember exactly where I was when I got that phone call from (Navy Head Golf) Coach (Pat) Owen. And receiving the Byron Nelson Award was the culmination of it all. It is one of the most special awards in college golf and an award that I didn't even know much about until I was named a finalist. Winning that award was a huge thrill and very special for me, Coach, and the Naval Academy.

Q: If you had to offer current student-athletes some words of wisdom what would they be?

A: I would recommend that you practice as hard as you can every day because four years goes by fast. Always remember that you are an ambassador for your school when you are competing. Also, continually improving your time management skills is essential for a successful college career.

Q: Do you still follow Navy athletics?

A: Yes, I follow the golf team closely and since I still live in Annapolis, I practice with the team here and there when I am home. I loosely follow the other sports and try to keep track of how we are doing against Army.

Q: Looking back, what does it mean to you to have been a Patriot League student-athlete?

A: The Patriot League is one of the premier academic leagues in the country and to have competed in golf while attending a demanding institution (like all of the Patriot League schools are) makes me value the overall experience more than some other athletes whose main focus was just their sport.